New SA Lobbying Registration Scheme To Commence On 1 March
Monday 22 February 2016 @ 11.58 a.m. | Legal Research
South Australia’s new professional lobbyist registration scheme will begin shortly, with the Lobbyists Act 2015 having been proclaimed to commence on 1 March 2016. Passed by Parliament last September, the Act and the accompanying Lobbyists Regulations 2016 creates a new series of rules for the registration of professional lobbyists. Lobbyists previously covered under the former Register of Lobbyists and the Lobbyist Code of Conduct will be temporarily registered under the new Act when it commences.
Introducing the Bill into Parliament, Deputy Premier John Rau told Parliament:
“Lobbying is a legitimate part of the democratic process. There is an expectation, however, that lobbying activities will be carried out transparently and with integrity…
The Bill imposes a tough but fair scheme on professional lobbyists. It provides clear rules of engagement between lobbyists and government officials consistent with community expectations, best practise and the Government's undertaking to improve and build on the State's public integrity system.”
The Bill was introduced as part of a package with the Parliamentary Remuneration (Determination of Remuneration) Amendment Bill 2015, which has also been assented and has already commenced. For more information see TimeBase’s earlier article.
Under the Act, lobbyists will be prevented from engaging in lobbying unless they are currently registered. Corporations breaching this rule could be penalized up to $150,000, with individuals subject to a $30,000 penalty or 2 years imprisonment.
Registration will also require an annual fee, which will be fixed by regulation. Lobbyists will have to provide information to the register, including:
(i) the name of each person or body for or on behalf of whom the registered person has engaged in lobbying, or with whom the person has had an agreement to engage in lobbying;
(ii) the name of each public official who was lobbied by the registered person;
(iii) the subject matter of the lobbying engaged in;
(iv) the name of any person employed by or otherwise engaged by the registered person to engage in lobbying (whether or not the person in fact engaged in lobbying);
(v) any other details prescribed by regulation. (Act, s 8(1)(b))
The register will be publicly accessible and available online, although the Act contains provisions that allow for the exclusion of some information from the register upon application.
The Act also imposes “post-separation rules” that prevent Ministers from any professional lobbying activities for two years after they leave office. Parliamentary Secretaries, ministerial staff and departmental executives cannot participate in professional lobbying activities in relation to all matters the individual had official dealings with for 12 months after their departure. Government board members are also forbidden from engaging in professional lobbying while they are serving on the board.
Success fees, defined as “an amount of money or other valuable consideration, the receipt of which is contingent on the outcome of the lobbying” are outlawed under section 14 of the Act, with the same penalties applying as to unregistered lobbying, and the fee to be forfeited to the Crown.
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Lobbyists Act 2015 (SA), Bill and Second Reading Speech - available from TimeBase's LawOne service